Cows can swim! On your visit to Lake Kivu, be sure to check out Samuel's swimming cows. Samuel is a local dairy farmer who manages a herd of about 30 cows on the beautiful Kumugongwe Island of Lake Kivu, in Rwanda's Eastern Province. On this unique visit, you'll head to the island Samuel lives and works on in a small motor boat, driven by Olivier, a local motor boat operator.
This booking does not include the cost of Olivier's motor boat that will take you to the fishing boats. The price for the shuttle boat is paid separately, and the price structure is approximately 25,000 - 40,000 for 1-5 people - $30-50.
The visit will start with a steep, but short (about 2-5 minutes) hike up the hillside to reach Samuel's basic milking operation. You'll get to try your hand at milking cows, or just take a nice walk around the island and see where his cows graze. He's also got quite a few small calves, which are always happy and curious to see you, and even have their heads scratched.
After the visit to Samuel's island, you'll head back to the boat, where Olivier will position you in the perfect spot for watching Samuel's cows swim across Lake Kivu to a different island where they will spend the rest of the day grazing.
Samuel has been raising cows in the Lake Kivu area since he was a small boy. After losing both of his parents in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Samuel started raising cows as a way to provide for himself. Now in his late 20s, Samuel continues the livelihood his parents taught him. Raising his cows is Samuel's life. He milks twice a day and lives off the earnings from selling the milk. He also helps support his two sisters with his earnings, and is saving up to build a simple house for his sisters.
Samuel has a group of friends that frequently lend a hand when it's time to milk the cows, or if he needs to travel away from the island. When asked for more information about swimming cows, Samuel confidently tells us that all cows can swim once they're big enough. Samuel is confident that his cows can swim over 1km if they have to.